Water Damage on Ceilings....Please Help!

10 Replies

I am looking at my first possible flip purchase.  I can account for all cost except this.  The roof needs to be replaced hence the water damage in most of the rooms on the ceilings.  The homeowner says it has been there for a while, whatever that means.  I am meeting my GC on Monday to give me an estimate for rehab cost (which I have a really good idea already) but they are not really on the up and up when it comes to mold.  I did not see any signs of mold anywhere in the house but I know this does not mean there is not mold there.  Should I get an inspection and find out or should I go forward with the deal.  My thoughts from a little google education is if I find mold I can have my contractor treat it as long as it's not black mold and I should be okay. Again this is my first flip so I really can't afford to walk into some huge cost that is unexpected here.  I am afraid if I get an inspector out they will tack me for all kinds of little stuff, this is a lower end neighborhood $50,000-$85,000 so these homes have a lot going on in them.  I want to do it right but we are not dealing with a high end home here.  Any thoughts?

@Jamie Wooley  I would definitely get a home inspection, but I wouldn't get one, until you get the property under contract.  Just make sure you give yourself  at least 5 working days in the Option period.  (I think it's Section 23 of the TREC.)  It will cost you a few bucks that are non-refundable, but it gives you the right to terminate the contract for any reason or no reason.  That is cheaper than paying for the inspection and never getting the property even under contract.

@Jamie Wooley   it sounds like you are potentially going down a slippery slope without brakes.  I say this because it does not sound like you have somebody you trust to do the actual home inspection.  

If you see water marks inside the building, there was definitely water pooling up in the attic.  How much water really depends on the length of time the hole/leak in your roof has existed.

You could ask your GC to send somebody up into the attic and look around for mold around the area where the stain exists.  He probably will find something up there.  But what he finds and how much he finds is probably the more appropriate question.  If you spray common surface mold with a bleach and water solution, it will start to disappear after a few minutes (no scrubbing).  If the mold does not go away, you potentially have bigger problems and you might need to have a special crew come in and take care of the problem.

Keep in mind that there are potential legal issues that could haunt you regarding mold.  At the end of the day you need to understand your tolerance for POTENTIAL legal issues. If the thought of getting a call after you sold the house is going to keep you up at night, I would suggest sending a trained mold specialist up there to look around.  Don't get some GC, but an actual specialist to look/test for mold.  It should cost you a few hundred dollars for the test.  If they don't find anything you will at the very least have a document clearing the property of mold, which should make potential buyers feel more comfortable.

If they do find something, maybe you can use it to negotiate the price down.  Once mold is found and the seller is notified of the problem, I believe they become legally bound to tell other potential buyers of the safety hazard.  

Good luck!

@Jamie Wooley  There are also special companies that deal specifically with mold removal. You may want to look into having them come out and take a look for an expert opinion on the subject. Hope this helps! 

Definitely have it checked out.  Double check the roof anyway.  it may not be fixed yet and that can cost a lot of money also.  You will have to take the attic insulation out if you replace the ceiling drywall so find out now what is there.

Thanks a lot I appreciate the feedback.  I will get my GC's estimate and if it works out make an offer.  If accepted sign the contract and get it inspected.  

Has anyone dealt with leaky roofs and had water damage on the ceilings in your rehabs?  Does this usually involve mold? 

I personally have not seen mold issues in the attic area. The drywall most likely took the brunt of the damage (depending how long this has been going on) This will have to be replaced. Your GC should be able to crawl up in the attic and quickly assess wether the structural members are ok. 

Good luck. 

One thing to keep in mind is that if the leak is near a wall, you can't go cutting open the wall or walls to investigate how much mold there actually is until you own the property.... usually. You may be able to drill a small hole here and there in  insert a camera to see in the stud cavities. I have no idea if this is one small area or a few of them with water evidence, but its something to keep in mind. Also if the leak is in the center of the room then is the subfloor suffering from it. you may be able to tell if there is a crawl space. If its a slab on grade home no real need to worry. Just a few things that came to mind. Good luck!

I just took a class on mold remediation. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT scrub with bleach. Bleach does not kill mold and you could release the spores into the air. Texas is humid, and mold grows well in humidity.

If this is your first flip, you should definitely get a home inspection. Ask several people in your area for a recommendation. A really good inspector will be rather hard to schedule. Try to get a tentative inspection date while negotiating the contract. And watch the movie The Money Pit. Good luck!

Hey Jamie, Just reading this today and I am looking at the property in similar condition.  Whatever happened?? Did you buy it?

I have had quite a few projects involving mold.  Aside from the obvious things you will likely need to replace (drywall, insulation), you will also want to have the plywood sheeting checked out for mold from inside the attic.  It is very possible that there is quite a bit of mold on the sheeting, which would likely mean that the roof will need torn off so that you can have the sheeting replaced as well (treating the sheeting is possible depending on the size of the affected area, but likely will be almost as expensive as replacing the roof itself).

As Mindy mentioned above, do NOT use bleach on mold - all it does it change the color of the mold - it does not kill it and can cause more spores to be released into the affected area if the mold area is disturbed. 

There are mold inspection companies, and mold remediation companies.  If you have an inspection company come out, they will do a tape test on multiple areas of the house, and will send the tape samples off to a lab for testing to determine the amount and type(s) of mold present.  Then they will develop a remediation scope of work, which you can then provide to the remediation specialist for a bid. 

The remediation company will typically put up a plastic sheeting barrier to contain the affected area and will use a HEPA air scrubber to remove any spores in the air.  They will also remove any affected materials that cannot be treated with detergent/water solution.

Once the remediation work is completed, have the mold inspection company come back out for a re-test.  Assuming the re-test passes inspection, they will give you a report indicating that the property has been tested and has passed inspection (which you can then provide as part of your disclosures when selling the property). 

Keep in mind, just because a mold area is not black, it does not mean it is not toxic.  There are hundreds of strains of mold, and several strains are considered toxic, and not always easily visible to the eye.

These types of projects can be tedious and costly due to having to replace a lot of building materials and the remediation work involved.  It doesn't sound like you will have much room for profit margin in the area the house is located in, so I would really make sure you have your costs nailed down before proceeding with this project.  You might consider passing on this one and looking for a less risky project.

*No legal advice given.


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